Aquarium Coop vs. Seachem - Ingredients and Value

Discussion in 'Plants & Inverts' started by Jeffro, Jan 29, 2018.

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  1. Jeffro
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    Jeffro Member

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    Edit - My conclusion for now is that the Aquarium Coop fertilizers are great if you want to keep it simple. The Easy Green is more concentrated than some of the other name brand products and I've read many of the great reviews indicating that it works well.

    Dry fertilizers may be the way to go if you want to save the most money, but requires more work than the Easy Green.

    Thanks to the suggestions for dry fertilizers. I think I'm going that route for now and will see how it goes. :)



    Hello,

    I know there are no specific easy answers as there are variables with different water, plants, etc. but I would like to see if I can switch over to using the Aquarium Coop fertilizers. I like to support local businesses, and could even save some money at the same time. ;)

    I have been using Seachem products and did pick up some Easy Green last year. I'm wondering what some of the differences are. I also use the Seachem Potassium and noticed that Easy Green has more Potassium, but is it enough, or should I be adding more?

    Easy Green vs Flourish - It looks like the Easy Green has higher concentrations for the most part, but is also missing a few things and has less Iron. Does anyone know the reasons why? Should I be adding extra Iron with Easy Iron if I plan on using something like Excel or Easy Carbon? Maybe there's a video explaining this?

    upload_2018-1-29_11-12-22.png upload_2018-1-29_11-13-54.png

    Easy Carbon vs Excel

    I can't see what the active ingredients are from the pictures on the Aquarium Coop website (the product picture zoom doesn't actually zoom in on a more detailed picture), but I'm wondering what the differences are. One difference seems to be the gallons treated. Excel would treat somewhere between 3000-6000 gallons and Easy Carbon around 5000 gallons.

    Are the active chemicals the same? Is one safer to use (less toxic) or more beneficial for the plants?


    Easy Iron vs. Seachem Iron - These seem to be the same, except for Seachem being cheaper, although you can buy a larger size from Aquarium Coop to save money.


    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2018
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  3. Mike16T
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    Mike16T Well-Known Member

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    i used to use Easy green from aquarium co cop. It's a good liquid ferts then I tried nilocg's Thrive+ and see more good results in my plants. I have not used seachem's ferts at all.

    I no longer use liquid ferts because I'm doing EI dosing now. But I suggest go for easy green if you want to support local business. nilocg is based in Oregon and prefer the Thrive+ liquid ferts. They do have Thrive +S if you are worried about shrimps.

    Just my two cents.. ;);)
     
  4. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jeffro,

    First of all most liquid ferts are expensive if you have a large tank or multiple tanks because you are paying for water, mixing, packaging, and shipping. Dosing dry ferts, for example using the EI (Estimative Index), is much more economical and maybe easier too.

    Depending upon your water source you may have harder or softer water however here in the Seattle area our water is extremely soft. This results in plant deficiencies. Most 'bottled' ferts are formulated for an "average" planted tank where the water has more nutrients than we have here. Although 'bottled' ferts may have sufficient macro-nutrients such as N, P, K, for our area there is seldom sufficient calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) in the formulas for our soft water conditions. This results in plant nutrient deficiencies especially deficiencies of calcium and magnesium. Of the two choices you presented I would choose neither since they do not have any calcium; that includes the NilocG Aquatics products as well with no calcium. If you want to use any of the three you will need to add Seachem Equilibrium (or a DIY GH Booster) in which case I would go with the NilocG Aquatics Thrive product with the higher Fe. If you have a question on dosing Seachem Equilibrium let me know.

    Easy Carbon and Seachem Excel are both made from glutaraldehyde, Excel is a 1.5% concentration I do not know the concentration in Easy Carbon.

    Seachem Flourish Iron and Easy Iron are both made from Ferrious gluconate in a 10,000 ppm Fe solution and are likely identical.



     
  5. Jeffro
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    Jeffro Member

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    Awesome! Thank you for the information! I have been reading up on dry fertilizer and may go that route, but I do really like the simplicity of using a pump bottle. I read about mixing your own, but don't want to mess with doing that if it is okay to dose dry fertilizer directly into the tank.

    One of the things I don't understand is how some of these all in one products are okay to use with everything mixed together. I've read some about the mixtures having RO water and additives such as ascorbic acid to prevent the chemicals from interacting, but I'm supposed to just take the sellers word that this is okay...whereas I read that the nutrients will not be available for the plants if mixed together concentrated.

    So, while I do trust Cory because he is awesome and has so much friendly, useful advice, the only thing I have to go off of is "...When I was developing it everyone said it can't be done. You can't put all the macros and micros together. Just can't be done! Well, I've done it and now lots of companies do it...".

    What allows for the micros and macros to work together in the all in one without them interacting? Has this actually been tested or is there an explanation somewhere?

    I was using separate Seachem for a while, then some easy green, and growth was awesome, but I also saw some algae growth at times. I started doing larger water changes, and now I see that this is also a recommendation of the EI method to remove extra nutrients. Excel can help with algae, but I also don't want imbalances or some chemicals reacting with other chemicals and causing them to not be available for the plants.


    So, I guess I get to start down the fun path of reading more and more and more. lol I will watch some more videos from Aquarium Coop because I'm sure Cory explains some of this stuff.

    The EI method seems like a step up from the all in one liquid method, but I would prefer the all in one method with pump bottles.
     
  6. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Jeffro

    Almost all of the nutrients that we use for planted tanks can be mixed together with the exception of phosphate nutrients such as mono potassium phosphate (KH2PO4) and iron supplements made with chelates because the phosphate and iron will interact to form iron phosphate. Iron phosphate is an insoluble material which makes the nutrients unavailable to the the plants and can cloud the water.

    I have not done research on combining mono potassium phosphate with Ferrous Gluconate to see if they interact but it is likely they do. Ferrous Gluconate is what Seachem Flourish Comprehensive uses in their mix and I believe that the source of phosphate in Flourish Comprehensive is a protein hydrolysate to avoid the iron phosphate problem that can occur.
     
  7. Jeffro
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    Jeffro Member

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    So maybe something like this could work well since it also comes with a GH booster? http://nilocg.com/ei-based-npk-csm-b-with-gh-booster/

    Then add some extra iron? I see two different types of iron but I'm not sure what the difference is: Iron DTPA and Ferrous Gluconate

    The CSM also has iron, so it looks like I wouldn't add as much extra iron according to the dosing guidelines on their website: http://nilocg.com/dosing/

    My setups are low tech (I have yet to invest in a c02 setup), so I would simply be dosing once a week (macros and micros on separate days, extra iron with the micros).

    I can see how this would be much cheaper, especially for my 55G. I am wondering how much it would increase the hardness or PH though. Up here in Bellingham we have similar soft water I believe, but the PH is already on the high end of 7.5-8. I'm wondering if the PH is too high for some of these fertilizers to even be effective. So many variables!
     
  8. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Jeffro ,

    As you said in the first post "I know there are no specific easy answers".

    Actually, if you haven't checked (or asked a friendly LFS to check) your tap water that is the first step. Why? Knowing my pH, dKH, and dGH is important for the health of both my fish and my plants. I regularly check (monthly) the pH, dKH, and dGH of my tanks and also every three months those same parameters of my tap water (allowing the tap water to sit 24 hours prior to testing to allow for off-gassing)

    The City of Bellingham (COB) obtains their water from Lake Watcom which is fed by many sources. It is described by the local water utility as a 'soft water lake' but I could find no detailed water analysis like the City of Seattle provides so I have no quantitative measurements. I do know that there are several water districts outside the COB that use wells as a source of water and those locations can have very hard water.

    With the soft Seattle water I have to add calcium and magnesium to my water, along with the typical macro-nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus (N, K, P) and micro-nutrients such as iron (Fe), manganese, chloride, sulfur, zinc, etc. If I don't add the calcium and magnesium my plants suffer from deficiencies such as leaf deformation and interveinal chlorosis (yellowing leaf material in-between green veins).

    Iron availability can be significantly effected by pH (dKH). The iron (Fe) in our fertilizers are typically in a chelated (bonded) form with an organic material that encapsulates the iron molecules and the various types of chelation effects the availability of iron that we add. The more common types of chelation are EDTA, DPTA, EDDHA with EDTA being the most common (and I believe least expensive). Here is how EDTA iron is effected by pH; with a low pH (pH@6.0) the bonds between the iron molecules and the organic material that encapsulates it are easily broken making 100% the iron available to our plants. However when the pH of the water in my tank is higher, say ph@7.5 then on 2.5% of the iron I add to my tank becomes available to to my plants....a substantial reduction. My choice for a source of iron for my tanks is ferrous gluconate, which is found in Seachem Flourish Iron and some to the all-in-one fertilizers. If the source of iron in a fertilizer is not listed in the ingredients (i.e. EDTA or ferrous gluconate) then assume it is likely EDTA chelated iron and is substantially effected by pH.

    Availability of iron (Fe) to plants based upon pH and form of chelation
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Jeffro
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    Great information! I do have some of the information from the city for the water supply in my area:

    upload_2018-2-5_10-22-47.png

    I don't have a test kit to test everything, but the PH is always lower than 8 when I test. I suspect that some of these parameters do change after I treat the water. I do have some driftwood and for a while I was adding oak leaves as well as some cuttlefish bone for my shrimp tank.

    I'm not too concerned with having exact amounts of fertilizer, as long as it is relatively safe for the fish and for me sticking my hands in the tank. What I like about the EI method is that larger water changes can remove extra fertilizers. However, I realize that it is still a good idea to know a starting point to avoid adding way too much of something.


    I'm still confused about the iron availability and it seems like a debated topic, but one solution is to provide multiple types of iron. So, maybe less of each ferrous gluconate and DPTA. The csm+b also has some iron.
     
  10. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Jeffro

    Actually the availability of various forms of chelated iron is well documented. When dealing with pH greater than 7.0 ferrous gluconate based iron supplements are the best, followed by DPTA, and EDTA. EDDHA are very good but turn the water red, not great for a tank.

    Keep in mind that shrimp (Neocaridina) do not like large water changes; maybe 10% maximum once a month so EI dosing is probably not a good method for a shrimp tank. GSAS had a very good shrimp talk in 2012 by Waylon Pon a San Francisco Aquarium Society member and avid shrimp keeper. I learned a lot about why I constantly was killing off my shrimp.
     
  11. Jeffro
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    Jeffro Member

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    It may be well documented, but searching on Google results in many discussions debating the availability of various iron supplements. Your information has been helpful. :) Thank you!

    Do you mix a solution, or just add dry to your tanks?

    I was reading about the EDDHA as well but don't want to turn my water red. I think I'll go with the ferrous gluconate and see how it goes. One issue I see is that different iron supplements can be available for different periods of time, so dosing more frequently may be more beneficial.


    I think the shrimp simply prefer stable parameters. I've had success doing minimal water changes and letting algae build up with a little feeding every 1-2 weeks. I've also had success doing 50% water changes weekly and feeding almost daily.

    I bet they would like the addition of the GH booster. I've added cuttle fish bone which seems to help.


    I lost most of my shrimp when I moved them to a nano tank. I think I simply overfed them and it is easy to do in a smaller aquarium. I have them back in my 20 long and they love it.
     
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  12. Jeffro
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    I was reading about the Calcium Carbonate GH boosters not dissolving well in higher PH above 7. Do you know anything about this? I did see some mention of using Calcium Nitrate instead.

    With high PH, things like the cuttlefish bone and Calcium Carbonate may dissolve too slowly to be effective.

    I may pick up a kit so I can start testing.
     
  13. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jeffro,

    The reason a tank would have a high pH is that it already has a lot of carbonates. pH = dKH = Degrees of carbonate hardness Once you hit a certain level of any chemical in solution the solution becomes saturated and cannot absorb any more.

    Most GH Boosters do not contain calcium carbonate; typically they consist of calcium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate so also contain some iron and manganese.
     
  14. Jeffro
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    ph = dkh? :confused:

    I apologize about my typos...I meant Calcium Sulfate instead of Carbonate. It also doesn't dissolve very well is what some people were suggesting. I didn't want to order GH Booster only to have it sit in the tank useless, especially if it is in chunks or clouds the water.

    If the dkh is high and ph is high, then it would dissolve slowly, correct? Are there other chemicals that can be added to city water which increases ph without increasing dkh? Maybe this is the case, I have no idea.


    I'm going to take your advice and test so I at least have something to start with. :) More test kits...yay!
     
  15. Jeffro
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    2 drops for KH and 3 drops for GH

    ph appears to be between 7.2 and 7.6. It was a bit lower in the aquarium than tap water


    So, what I wonder now is if using some of the GH booster will affect the pH. I would hope that it wouldn't raise it even more, but it might help stabilize it. Any idea on that?

    I can order Calcium Nitrate separately but I don't see any clear information about using it.
     
  16. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Hi @Jeffro,

    Calcium carbonate will increase the pH, that is why if we increase the carbonates in our water our pH increases as well. Calcium carbonate will also increase the dGH of the water because it contains calcium. Calcium sulfate will have not effect on pH because it contains no carbonates, it will increase the amount of Ca in the water and the dGH. Typically for a planted tank unless we want to increase our pH we use calcium sulfate or calcium chloride as our source of calcium since it does not effect pH.
     
  17. Jeffro
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    Jeffro Member

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    Thanks Roy!

    The only issue I'm wondering about is the low solubility of calcium sulfate in high pH. The Calcium Nitrate can dissolve quickly, but from what I understand it can also react with sulfates. So, it may not work out well dosing at the same time, especially in smaller aquariums. Then, I would also need to adjust the Nitrates so I'm not dosing too much.

    I think I'll go with the GH Booster and see how it goes.

    Do you ever see any cloudiness with the Seachem Equalibrium?

    "Look at the solubility numbers in neutral pH water at 20 degrees C.:
    Calcium Carbonate: 0.15 grams can be dissolved in 100ml
    Calcium Sulfate: 0.25 grams can be dissolved in 100ml
    Calcium Chloride: 74.5 grams can be dissolved in 100ml
    Calcium Nitrate 121.2 grams can be dissolved in 100ml"

    - https://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/dissolving-gh-booster.22428/


    Thanks again for reading and assisting me Roy. I am still a newbie to planted tanks, having really started my first planted tank after the 2016 plant auction. I also did not take chemistry, so I have a lot to learn if I want to actually understand what may be going on with fertilizers.

    I did pick up some of the Easy Carbon yesterday. I like that it comes in a pump bottle so I don't have to wear gloves when pouring into the cap with Flourish Excel. Until I can get a c02 system set up, it works well to help grow plants and clear any algae at the same time.

    :)
     
  18. Seattle_Aquarist
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    Seattle_Aquarist Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jeffro,

    Only when I first put it into a tank, it usually dissipates over a few hours; if I were to add it just before lights out I would never see it at all. I like Equilibrium because it doses calcium and magnesium is the range of 3:1 - 4:1 for the Ca:Mg ratio.

    CaNO3 can certainly be dosed instead of KNO3 but with caution since it will further increase the dGH. I t may also cause an excess of Ca that can effect the uptake of Mg and K.
     

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